A Reluctant Saturday Night Review, aka La Belle Crepe at Harriet

               I’ve been antsy lately, and last Saturday night didn’t help. It’s been… what, 3 months since I was last able to review a new Truck? And that was just temporary winter pop up version of something already existing. And now, with the snow melting and weather warming, teasing me with urges to go outside with visions of Truck rallies to come, only to be roped away with work and the realities that it’s still winter (well, not technically, but for MN…).

SAMSUNG

                Thought I would have had this fixed a couple weeks ago with a great chance off to go to Harriet with a friend when the new Butcher Salt was out… and then work screwed me over. Again a clear ray of hope showed this past week; yet another new truck at Harriet, “La Belle Crepe,” and a friend available to join in a fun night of music, drinking and food.

                Well, there was a $5 cover, I didn’t find out until after I got there that the friend had a double shift, and the “truck” was just a catering table in the back corner. Can’t quite say which part I was most disappointed with, but how ‘bout we just focus on the food aspect?

SAMSUNG

                That just really, really sucked… you don’t know how excited I was when I thought La Belle Crepe had started their own mobile operation. I’ve been to their café in downtown Minneapolis (you should too; it’s this tiny little closet-shop, like you’d find in France, just before 9th on Nicolette Ave), and they’re pretty good. We’ve been needing a GOOD, proper Crepe Truck for a long time, something with tasty components and a fun attitude.

SAMSUNG

                Let me tell you why they would have fit the bill. Firstly, as one would expect, the crepes are awesome; good thickness, SOFT, really reminiscent of what the proper French pancake should feel and taste like. Add that to a copious variety of homemade fillings in the style of sweets, savories, and breakfast, and we have a delicious bundle of joy perfect for mobile eating. They aren’t all classic fillings either; one can get Caramel Apple, Orange dream, Spicy Chicken and Crab, Gyros, dill & Lox, Benedict, etc.

SAMSUNG

                But wait, there’s more. Not only do they offer crepes, Belle also makes other French classic comforts like Gelato and Croque-Monsieur/Madame. Oh, and Vietnamese food, tasty tasty Vietnamese food like Pho and Bahn Mi. Reminded me of the Korean-Crepe truck my friend had found in Texas, only not quite so Fusion; Vietnamese cuisine HAS had a lot of French influence, so it makes sense with the concept.

SAMSUNG

                Well, I had already paid the $5 entrance fee, so as much as I didn’t want to spend extra money it would have been a waste to just leave the place as-is. Thus I was able to actually sample one of their sandwiches, the Hoisin Pulled Pork. Oh boy was that good, each side completely slathered in the Hoisin Mayo, all those dressed and pickled veggies just shoved and stuffed in there (you should see them pile it on and push it in with the spatula), and the pork wasn’t too bad either.

                A little bit of sirachi on half with the tart veggies, it went really well with Harriet’s version of Sahti, a Sour Ale brewed with juniper berries and cedar chips instead of hops (tasted a bit like lambic, so I was already in a bit of a happy place).

SAMSUNG

                The bread wasn’t the best sadly, being served without feeling the loving embrace of a searing hot grill or oven, but to be fair that was due to the setup. They DO toast it at the café, and I would assume if able to go mobile they would ensure a proper heat source to do it for orders as well. Also, the Cilantro (which there was a ton of, thank you! So good), served in whole bunches, was a bit… sagging. But again, I had ordered a sandwich about 5 hours (at least) after they got there with no proper refrigeration unit besides a cooler.

SAMSUNG

                At the end of the day, they offer a fun concept with delicious, portable offerings, and I sorely hope they might get on the streets soon to properly replace a certain Other Truck. As for me, I still sit here, antsy and stuck, ever waiting for my first proper shot at a new truck this year.

               -sigh- At least it’s getting warmer.

Finnegan’s Reverse Food (Drive) Truck

20140227_reverse_food-truck_91

In 11 days, the non-profit local beer company “Finnegans” is launching a great new idea in Food Drives with their “Reverse” Food Truck, which The Current recently wrote a great article about after sitting down with CEO Jacquie Bergland. Read and listen to it Here: http://www.thecurrent.org/feature/2014/02/27/interview-with-finnegans-jacquie-berglund-reverse-food-truck

It may not exactly fit the mold of something I can review, but still I hope for the chance to be able to make it out to one of their stops in the upcoming months. Definitely am wishing them all good luck in this venture, and happy hunting for all those others looking to help!

Smack Shack Happy Hour

SAMSUNG

                 Despite the many trucks I’ve been to so far and the many city restaurants I crave to visit, for research or personal reasons, I don’t actually get that many opportunities to go out, especially with my new work schedule (would think getting paid might help my cause but… not so much). Imagine my delight when, after joining multiple groups on the Meetup website (which is a great way for those house-stuck people like me to find ways and excuses to get out and socialize), my first opportunity knocked right into my ballpark: Happy Hour at the Smack Shack Restaurant.

SAMSUNG

                Finally I can check them off my list, and soon before I’m about to hit Vellee Deli’s pop-up too! As for my little socialization thing, it was fun and eventful and a great way to spend a couple hours, but let’s get to what really matters (particularly with this blog); the Food.

SAMSUNG

                Let me just say that walking in is the first experience in culinary delight, as the long, skinny high hallway ends right before the main bar, of which is connected to the giant Boiler Pot swimming in onions and spices (at first I wondered if it was just a big thing of popular soup or sauce or something, but nope, they use the same big thing to cook aaaaalllllll their boils. Makes me wonder of the awesomeness in flavor development as the night progresses), the aroma wafting up as one views the windowed kitchen from afar.

SAMSUNG

                From there one can continue forward or turn into the larger bar area (not sure if Happy Hour has to be there, never asked, sorry!), lined on the left with their glass case of various kegs and bottled beer selections. I mean why store them in the back when they can all be lighted and on display?

SAMSUNG

                After ordering a Fulton Ringer (sadly I wish they had more and interesting beers on their Happy Hour, like their drink menu, but Fulton and Summit were sorta the limit), looking very odd next to the piles of Hurricane Glasses around me (and no I’m not sure if they were better than New Orlean’s, but one can always guess; still tasty though), I placed a couple food bids from the well-priced Happy Hour selections.

SAMSUNG

                For my first time here, I of course had to stick with some truck-reminiscent items (though I guess most of the happy hour selections were of that locale), in particular a Fried Oyster Slider. Oh, I haven’t had fried oysters in a long while, and this was a good one to come back to. Batter was good, firm and crispy, with a soft, juicy, tender inside which still contains that nice little grey-ish (I’ve discovered I like describing flavors and aromas in colors at times) briny flavor. And the mayo sauce was good too.

SAMSUNG

                Next plate went to a couple Short Rib Tacos, made of course from Masa as it should be. Now, I love a good Short Rib, and the flavor from these were certainly proper, but it feels like they missed the mark a bit. For starters, the meat didn’t feel as tender and moist and juicy as it can be; not DRY, but like some pulled pork. I mean, if you KNOW beef short ribs, and what they can taste like after long hours of moist, rich braising…. awww man, they can just epitomize that peak of melty beefy heaven. And the texture here just seemed at a noticeably lower stepping stone than what it should be.

SAMSUNG

                Secondly, I think the tacos needed at least one or two more elements; other ones I saw had a few toppings, while this only had pickled onions and pickled red peppers; which were good, but bare and very singular in note. Well, and a sauce too, but on bottom and very inline with the short rib flavors. Maybe just a sprinkle of queso blanco, or a little herby corn salsa mixed into the sauce, and it would have been PERFECT.

                Mind you, again, it tasted pretty darn good overall, but knowing what these guys can do I’m just surprised at what was offered over the simple possibility.

SAMSUNG

                Of course, though this was all I ate, I had to take pictures of my colleague’s food. Both Pork and Catfish tacos were offered, and they looked GOOD (see, look at all those toppings on the fish one).

SAMSUNG

                A Cobb Salad featuring a heaping pile of Lobster Meat, and of course some of that signature toasted Milk Bread on the side in place of croutons.

SAMSUNG

                Someone had gotten the Blackened Catfish Slider, and god I was tempted to steal a piece of that fish; very much wish I had ordered that. It’s on the Happy Hour too, and I’m betting one of the best deals for it.

SAMSUNG

                And it’s not a Smack Shack Dining Event without one of their Mac n Cheeses, here served into a proper soup bowl as opposed to the giant paper-made bar trays (so annoying when dealing with the leftovers). I think they got Bacon, but not too sure; and for those who still have yet to have or hear of this, it’s a must-get. Made with Taleggio cheese, it’s a much stronger and more “distinctive” flavor, but good with the bacon or lobster.

                Sadly, no one getting the traditional Roll, but I’m sure it tastes just as good as it has before. Overall I had fun, the menu was as interesting as before, a little pricey as expected though there area  few good deals here and there (especially in Happy Hour), and I was able to scratch them off my list. I do regret and wish I could have tried those Lobster Corn Dogs, but we can’t have everything I guess.

SAMSUNG

                If you ever wanna experience Smack Shack, definitely go here; I still think that their concept is much better as a sit-down Lunch or Dinner affair than on the street, and there are a lot more various fun and interesting options. Plus, you can drink, and who doesn’t love that?

                Good Boils and Great Claw Crushing to you all, thank you to the particular social group for having me on, and I wish everyone reading luck in their street-food-related adventures!

Beer Dabbler 2014

(Crap! I meant to post this like a week ago, but I guess it was stuck in my editing box. Sorry about that guys! Feel so lazy now…)

20131104_beer-dabbler_91

http://www.thebeerdabbler.com/ 

                The New Years is passed, the first cold snap hit, and as always at this time of year the Beer Dabbler is just around the corner.

                Taking place in the ginormous area that is the State Fair Grounds (or at least the Midway), the Dabbler (for those still unaware… as I was until recently -cries-) is the biggest outdoor Beer Festival in the State (and I’m sure it rivals a few others outside it, though don’t quote me on that). Showcasing and sampling beers from over 150 different local and national breweries, this even is sure to shoo away all the winter cold Mother Nature keeps trying to throw at us.

Dabbler-Crowd_gallery_header

                Of course there’s more than just Beer to be offered; entertainment is key and expected in these events, with a full lineup of Live Bands and Music (which is yet to be up), Wynchfest’s typical Snowboard course to watch professionals shred, a “Silent Disco” (no clue, I’m hoping it’s not what it sounds like), and an attempt to break a Guinness World Record. That’s right, this year those at the event will help participate in the World’s Largest Snowball Fight!

                Various vendors and of COURSE Food Trucks will be there as well to better accompany the many alcoholic exchanges. And though they have yet to get a list up of who all will be there, I’ll be sure to update when (or, more realistically, if) they get around to it on the site.

FD_BeerDab_Mayor_gallery_header

                The Dabbler will be taking place on Saturday 25th, from 3:30-7:30pm as stated, with regular entrance tickets being $35 online beforehand ($50 if buying at entrance), which allow one to try aaalllll the beers on sample for free (they also had V.I.D. tickets for $99, but they’re already sold out). As far as travel goes, for those unable or not feeling like driving a car good news, as the local metro buses are giving free rides along routs to the Fairgrounds (provided you show them the downloadable “voucher” for it on the site).

                And that’s about all I can say about it, as any attempt I could make in going into FURTHER detail of the event would pale in comparison and skill versus what one can find on the site itself or from more able-fingered local magazines and experienced bloggers. And sadly, despite a huge love of beer and desire to attend I doubt I’ll actually be able to go this year and further report on the street food (and ok, some beer) findings in person. Varying work schedule and monetary budges can just be a bitch can’t they?

                For those who do go, have fun, good eating, but especially good drinking! Look forward to various other blogger’s more detailed and beer-centered reviews/reactions to the day’s events afterwards!

Brunch-fest of Champions

SAMSUNG

                   Cafer Racer and a Fulton for Brunch, best way to start off the day! Got to finally try Racer’s Carrot Souffle, which ends up as this mound of awesomely chewy cheese (if you’ve ever had those parmesan “crisps,” it’s like that but thicker) and delicious sweet carrots. The chicken was a bit drier than their pork, but considering they only use the breast meat it’s to be expected; the flavor is still really good and awesome though, and that’s before mixing everything together (and thank you god they’re topping it with all their sauces now, AND the crispy fried strip things!). As for the beer, Fulton’s seasonal Libertine (Imperial Red Ale), quite the tasty fella, and strong of course… took me a bit of a walk to recover, but worth it.

Fall Rally Roundup and some New Stuff

SAMSUNG

                This Saturday was the second of MN Food Truck Association’s new Harriet Brewery Truck Rally events, this time with 15 Trucks showing (one of which didn’t show, but was quickly replaced with Twisted Fork). Though despite the two months wait between this and the first of the (hopefully) many events, the weather was oddly the same (truly… rainy, then sprinkling when I arrived, getting sunny, and then rainy again… so weird).

SAMSUNG

                Despite what was, ultimately, a very cold, grey, and rainy start to the morning and afternoon, attendance to this street-side affair was a perfectly surprising boom! Talking with the guys carding at the front, about 3-4X the first rally despite notably colder and wetter conditions. And I have to say it seemed to be the PERFECT amount of people too; enough to be quite crowded and busy (particularly in the actual taproom and the one tiny tent over tables, which this year was moved over to the corner with the extra trucks occupying the middle, where it was quite cramped), but with just the amount that one could navigate around the Trucks with ease, and into the taproom with only mild difficulty.

SAMSUNG

                That said, I’m sure all in attendance would agree this to be a very successful day, and can’t wait for the next ones; so far, two events in, both of which completely dominating the Food Truck Fairs in execution.

SAMSUNG

                So then, I actually had more than one reason to come here; besides the need to report as an addition to the blog, along with my obvious joys in the continued visiting and exploring evolutions of our fantastic Truck and Brewery scene, I was also meeting up with a new acquaintance in the Truck scene.

SAMSUNG

                This is Brett from Food Truck Empire, eating something on a skewer (I’ll detail that in a bit), a fellow Minnesotan Food Truck lover who started up his own blog/site. We just finished doing a fun podcast interview a couple weeks ago (which should be out in a couple more weeks, will report when it’s launched!), and after hearing he had a sadly miniscule amount of experience with ACTUAL local trucks, having only been to a few in St. Paul (so sad the city’s lunch scene doesn’t support a large amount of our mobile brethren), I just HAD to invite him down to the Rally to enjoy some beer and show him to a couple of the trucks. That said, I should probably get to what was actually experienced during the day!

SAMSUNG

                With getting there a little earlier than him, having to wait in the cold for a while, I just couldn’t help but need something to warm me up. Luckily for me, MidNord decided to bring some Hot Apple Cider and Horchata (Mexican Rice Milk with Cinnamon), and I of course had to have a cup of the latter. So warm, spiced, and a nice simple way to warm up during the weather (certainly a great thing to grab if you still see them on the streets in the coming months).

SAMSUNG

                After getting snuck up on by a black-hat-ed hobo in a hoodie (Ha! Just kiddin’ Brett), we slid over to say hi to my buds at Motley, which had done their own podcast with Brett just a month or so ago. I was happy cuz I was finally able to get my bag of Nuts, and Brett ordered one of their delicious Funky Phillies, which I swear was even better and gooey-er than the last one I had.

SAMSUNG

                As for my thoughts, the nuts are definitely good; crunchy, with a thick little shell of spiced sugar on the outside, with a nice flavor of cinnamon and other notes coming out. I think I still prefer the awesome, unique pretzels they have though; the nuts aren’t really so stand-out “oh wow amazing what is this,” but to be fair it’s hard to do that with candied nuts these days (probably because we know what to expect). But they’re still made WELL and proper, and I doubt I could reproduce something close to its style that easily.

SAMSUNG

                While eating, we headed over to the little beer stand, moved to the side wall and a bit away from the tent-covered tables instead of under it, where we, after proving our idea at the gate to get a wristband, we then moved to ONE line to then buy a beer ticket and back to the OTHER to get the beer (so many separate steps… felt odd, haha). With a few beers starting with W, I ordered the Woluptuweiss (very dark malted beer, my favorites) while he ordered their West End IPA. Such nice beers to enjoy over conversation, Nuts and Pretzels, and Food Truck traveling.

SAMSUNG

                Next stop, to my own surprise until a saw a post of their menu before leaving, was Hibachi Daruma. From the looks of it, it seems they’ve actually took notes of some of the things mentioned in my, and possibly others, review and comments… either that or just did it on their own, but that destroys my self-esteem so I’m gonna say the former!! Besides a lo mein and rice dish, the Menu, accompanied by a set of pictures describing the items, now consists of Gyoza, Chicken Yakitori Skewers, and a Beef “Negimaki” (basically strips of cooked beef rolled up like sushi and filled). So much better potential for street-eating, and bringing in lower-priced options as well! I’ll definitely be updating my review of them shortly after this.

SAMSUNG

                After a bit of thinking, I just had to try the yakitori (it was my main option complaint in the review afterall) which, though certainly tender and very portable, and looked pretty with the carrots (though it felt odd to have for street food), wasn’t really all THAT impressive in flavor. It was… a skewer, that’s about it. Chicken and Bell Peppers with soy sauce, meh. Stick with gyoza, those are always tasty.

SAMSUNG

                Had to of course stop over at Café Racer while we had the chance, firstly to get my obligatory conversation in with the owner and secondly to introduce him to Brett for a potentially awesome podcast opportunity. I even got a little scoop myself that Mr. Patino might be putting together his own Late Night local Food Truck show (web-based I think) in the coming months, which I will definitely keep track of and update when I have the chance.

SAMSUNG

                Taking a look at the slightly redesigned (visually, not in product… though I think they increased the price on the hot dogs) menu with added pictures, we grabbed one of their Arepa sandwiches. And I’m glad we did!! Much redesign and evolution has happened to this item that once was a pile of pork with cornmeal flatbreads on the side, making it into a complete, already-put-together sandwich with slightly thicker arepas and an addition of that delicious pink sauce, light greens, some thin pepper slices, and fried carrot strips. It all came together soooooo well and delicious, very complete and juicy, the pork being just as perfect in its cooking as usual to make a very, very enjoyable sandwich/arepa experience.

SAMSUNG

                It is, however, still a bit messy, but one could easily eat it with their hand while walking and use a fork to clean up everything else, just need a napkin for afterwards. Oh, and the plantains were good, a little honey-sweet, though it didn’t wow me too much. Either way I have another Truck to update.

SAMSUNG

                With the end of our eating experience in sight, dessert became a must-have. So we headed over to Social, only to find that 4 of the 5 offerings they had were already sold out! Thankfully, the one that was left was a “Mocha” with dark chocolate cake and an espresso buttercream; probably what I would have ordered anyway. And of course, always refined, rich, and delicious.

SAMSUNG

                Oooooh, and I got to snap a pic of that Cupcake-Sundae thing I learned about at Lunch by the River! It sadly wasn’t what I was expecting (was hoping much more cupcake and in a long split/sundae bowl), but it still looks good…

SAMSUNG

                And so went my afternoon that day, stuck in a brewery parking lot crammed with a bevy of trucks and bumping elbows with the crowd, everybody enjoying a beer, food, or both (much like this lady with her amazingly-plated BLT Sliders). Hopefully my wait until the next similar event won’t be as long, but even if this is the last of the year I’d have to say 2013’s had a pretty damn good run. So however the rest of this year plays out, I wish the Trucks the best of luck in the coming season of cold. With this we’ve said goodbye to the weather of warm, and usher in colored leaves and grounds of snow (of which, I think I saw the first falling of the season… at least in my area).

SAMSUNG

                Good Luck and Good Eating to all!

SAMSUNG

Fall Feast Food Truck Rally

FallFeast-FoodTruckRally

              Tonight (probably already started) is the much anticipated Zombie Pub Crawl, 9 years in the running and now featuring a “Food Truck Court” somewhere within the main Quarantine area (which I found out only yesterday since no other site has advertised or provided details on the Trucks taking part).

                But as far as I’m concerned, the real party comes in a week as the MN Food Truck Association launch the Second of their Food Truck Rallies, the “Fall Feast.”

                After a couple months of waiting, a swarm of trucks are returning once more to Harriet Brewery to stand guard and provide their beloved fares to the crowd. Set from Noon to 7pm, these will of course be joined by various bands in the Harriet Taproom, and a ready supply of their fan-favorite beers. The full schedule of Music can be found on their sites of course.

As opposed to last time, the number of Trucks has increased to 15 (though we’ll see how many of them show up this time), and will include: Lulu’s Street Food, Cafe Racer, Tiki Tims, AZ Canteen, Motley Crews, Stanley’s, Brava, Eat At Sandy’s, Hibachi Daruma, A Cupcake Social, Hot Indian Foods, The MidNord Empanada Truck, Moral Omnivore, Gastrotruck, and The Red Pig & Truffle. Though the trucks cost money, entrance is still free, unless one plans to go to the “afterparty” ($5) at Bigtree Bonsai at 8pm.

                I definitely plan on going again to see how this event fares compared to the last; I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised that they decided to do the Rally at the same location, especially with how long of a wait we’ve had since their first (maybe it’s more of a seasonal Rally than a quick yearly grouping…). I hope to see you there, and Good Luck and Good Eating until then!

http://mnfoodtruckassociation.org/events/

http://www.harrietbrewing.com/event/fall-feast-food-truck-rally/  

WSK Restaurant Visit

SAMSUNG

                Finally got the chance to visit and eat at WSK’s fun little uptown restaurant just the other day! Wish I could have gone when the outside sign was lit up, but the inside one had that covered.

SAMSUNG

                With all the various blogs and pages that have recounted their own tale in here, I don’t really see much use in attempting a full review on my own (I’ll keep to the actual Trucks for that). Though a few pics and some recounting of my own wouldn’t be bad, and maybe if you still haven’t seen much on the place yet it could help convince a visit.

SAMSUNG

                Nice, big menu full of the Truck Staples and similar items in all different flavors. If you can read all the way to the right, you can see an option for Soft Serve in delicious flavors like Salted Caramel and Mango; much better than the cheap vanilla and chocolate at an Asian buffet.

SAMSUNG

                That’s Betty Lou…

SAMSUNG

                Sadly, I was capable of reading that…

SAMSUNG

                So a Beer it is! One of Indeed’s seasonal during happy hour (every day, 3-6, awesome).

SAMSUNG

                As for food, I got the Tikki Chat, a little patty of Lentils and Chickpeas and other things, ladled with two sauces, one avocado and one bean-based, sour cream, and those little rice sticks. Though it’s not a good Chaat without some hot sauce on the side.

SAMSUNG

                Luckily they have a nice little area for it. Not to mention a full cooler of Mexican Coke and Joia soda for those not thirsty for alcohol.

SAMSUNG

                Overall I had a nice, fun little time on my study day. Though I don’t eat out too often, I certainly look forward to future chances to go back, and would love to show it to people getting into the Truck-foodie game; maybe a fun stop on a “Truck-Restaurant-Crawl.” I’ve already got two under my belt now, maybe I should stop by some others and figure out a fun day-plan concept…

SAMSUNG

Rally Recap

With a busy weekend and class, it’s been a few days since I was able to get to my posts, so I apologize for the slow update.

 

SAMSUNG

            Well, the 1st of what hope to be many MN Food Truck Association Rallies have come and gone, and to quite the success in my opinion!

            The overall day itself wasn’t the best; they claimed beforehand that they’d stick out rain or shine, and it seemed the former decided to put them to the test. I know I speak for all those out on the streets that day in expressing my flustered surprise at the blanket of grey clouds on what was supposed to be a fully dry, sunny day. Luckily it didn’t rain too hard, though the medium drizzles and lighter WERE quite persistently on-and-off wherever I seemed to go.

            But the Trucks got through this easily, much like the happy crowd who was able to come out. This led to the first appreciated surprise of the day; the crowds weren’t actually CROWDS. Despite the plethora of Trucks shoved into one parking lot, the actual lines coming out of them were… well, in many cases inexistent, or at least small; very much unlike the past 2 experiences at the yearly “Food Truck Fair.” That is not to say there was nobody there and eating, just that they weren’t all jammed in front of the iron behemoths.

            Though whether this was due to the actual plans and strategies of the Association or if the rain simply segued attendance enough so the crowd-issue didn’t appear, either way the result of the day was a much calmer, easier, actually ENJOYABLE event for us to take advantage of. Success is finally here for the large Truck Gatherings, and it wasn’t purely from chance.

SAMSUNG

            Despite the relatively small space, as opposed to the blocks that Food Truck Fair uses, the overall lot still boasted a decent square footage, enough for them to actually plant tables and a tent in the middle. This allowed people to not only escape from the rain but actually sit DOWN with their Beer and Food; that is, when they weren’t heading back to the actual tap room area to sit and listen to music. The actual strategy here marks the first success in reducing those annoying lines; by giving multiple places for people to actually move to and spend time, we don’t have EVERYONE just hopping from one Truck Line to another, creating those crowds which garner the psychological need to get in there as soon as possible (even with food one just purchased somewhere else) to eat before closing.

SAMSUNG

            Which is another thing; this was a nice, lengthy 10-hour event, double the time of the 5-hour Fairs of past. Though I didn’t stick around the whole time, or even arrive when opened, I’m quite sure there were many who came and went throughout the prescribed times. I’m sure the whole list of different bands helped with this as well, along with their sweet sweet siren music of course.

SAMSUNG

            As for the Trucks themselves, having more is always better; even with my worry of the number in this enclosed space, one can’t help but argue that a number of trucks allows lines to divide and shorten for the customers which go; which once again have been much reduced in a minute-to-minute factor from the previous two discussed reasons.

SAMSUNG

            Though we didn’t exactly have as many as wanted… which leads to my only annoyance of the event. It seems 4 of the Trucks decided to cancel either last-minute or the day beforehand, including that one at the top of my current Hunting List A La Plancha (the other 3 to cancel were Moral, Bloomy’s, and House of Hunger). The reason, supposedly, is that all or most of them decided that they weren’t capable of handling a 10-hour event like this, whether it was due to amount of product they had or simply the labor effort of staying out that long. Which leads me to 2 very important things I would like to say in response: first off, if you’re going to cancel on an event like this, THEN TELL US! Not a single one of these trucks actually updated Facebook or Twitter on the fact that they WEREN’T coming to the Rally they said they would. And that’s another thing; all of these Trucks officially said they would do this at least 1-2 weeks in advance (otherwise the Association, which they are PART of, wouldn’t have put them on the list of 12 trucks I’m sure); you should KNOW ahead of time exactly what kind of event it’s going to be, as well as what your general schedule is like (look at a Taproom’s truck schedule, it’s usually filled at least a month in advance). If your truck is unable to handle that sort of event, then you shouldn’t have agreed to it in the first place; and if you DO agree, then suck it up and go; if you run out you run out, if you have to end early then you do, at least you went and tried. Of course, special circumstances that force one unable to get on the streets is understandable, but that seemingly wasn’t the case here, so a rant is where I go.

            I should probably apologize a bit, I’m sure part of why I’m a touch more annoyed than usual is due to a last-minute cancelling of Tollefson Family’s Cart at Fulton, which I had drove to earlier to finally try and get them. And now my hunt for them continues…

SAMSUNG

            As for the Trucks that did make it, we of course had AZ Canteen, R.A. Mac Sammies, Midnord Empanada, Potter’s Pasties, Lulu’s Street Food, Gogi Bros., Brava on Wheels, and Hot Indian Foods, all lined up around the edge like a delicious cage. I myself got the chance to try Gogi’s Tiger Balls!

SAMSUNG

            Damn those are big balls… sticky too (I need to stop…). I thought they were quite yummy and tasty, with a nice, rich spice to them from the sauce, and of course a crispy crust and soft, tender inside. I only wish there was more Kimchi though… I’m sure they probably got a lot of the “flavor” of it in, but if you say “kimchi rice balls” then I sort of expect a lot of those actual fermented veggies just stuffing the mixture. Not that I’m gonna complain about the gooey pepperjack center and pork studding it, but the kimchi (from a visual perspective) seems not just an afterthought, but nonexistent. Still delicious though.

SAMSUNG

            Oh, and they got the decal on their van! Wooh!

SAMSUNG

            Where to go next was actually a tough decision for me, but I settled on Hot Indian; not only haven’t I actually HAD a full burrito yet, I still hadn’t tried the Spinach Paneer… so I took care of both of those! And wow, I thought the Roti was just for the tacos; they make big ones for the burritos too, awesome! Yeah, these guys are still total Food Truck personified. And of course it’s delicious; I think I actually enjoyed it more than their meat-based stews, which isn’t surprising, Veggie-based Indian dishes are always so good.

SAMSUNG

            No beer for me that day, sadly; maybe if I was able to stick around longer, but the person I was meeting that day had to cancel and I had to get somewhere afterwards. Speaking of which, I didn’t actually see any specific items listed to pair well with the beers… maybe you had to ask about it, but oh well, I myself didn’t mind that too much. Though I saw the band play for a bit and took a look at the fun menu they had. Speaking of which, snapped a couple picks of some truck menus that did a little changy and update since last I saw them.

SAMSUNG
SAMSUNG

            Whether they dodged a bullet due to bad weather or enjoyed success from actual planning, the MN Food Truck Association kicked off their first Rally in a noticeably positive way, and I myself can’t wait for the next one. Whether the weather is the same or better (or worse), I’m sure they shall be there, as shall I to report their attempts at these odds-defying gatherings.

            Until then, Good Luck and Good Eating to all, I hope those who went enjoyed the Rally as much as I did!

SAMSUNG

            Also, for a separate and also well-done report on the event, see Here.

SFC: The Great E”scape” to Frying!

             So my sister has recently started doing the weekly Co-op delivery thingy where she gets a giant bag of whatever produce is in season; I’m so proud, it’s such a great thing for her! Well, except for the fact that she just passes off the entire bag to me every single week from her lack of time and will to actually do anything with them… which is great for me!

            Though there is the challenge of trying to get through the entire bag each week… so many things I have to consider how to cook for the family. And then there’s the garlic scapes… so many garlic scapes… every single week.

            Oh, for those who aren’t aware, I should probably explain. When growing, garlic has these long, curly green tops; when cut off, they look like this!

SAMSUNG

            Weird, long, curly green snake thingies that are a little bitch to cut… but they taste so good, raw at least. As-is, they basically taste like a Ramp, which tastes like a LITERAL cross of garlic and onion (not the “supposed” cross that shallots are), strong and pungent in the best ways, but mild enough to consume. Either way, I’ve been tossing it in to soups, sautés, salads, frittatas, whatever I can find… cuz I keep getting the damn things! They won’t go away!

            But either way. Been thinking of what to do with my last batch, and realized I haven’t made anything for the blog recently. And with the many fried items monopolizing the classic Street Food items, like the recent popularity of Beer-Battered Asparagus in various Trucks and Restaurants, like Starlight, deep-frying just seemed the way to go.

SAMSUNG

            First step was, obviously, cutting these fellas down to size… it may be fun to see an entire thing fried, especially in a restaurant, but I don’t exactly have an industrial-sized pan for frying. Got the main stems and the curlies cut in two. Note: should cut off the long string/cone attached to the “bulb” at the end; there’s no real flesh or anything to it, just string and fiber.

SAMSUNG

            Second, we need a batter; I love Tempura, but I didn’t have any club soda… and it’s not real street food if we don’t use some beer! Not to mention I have this giant batch of home-brewed Ginger (flavored) Beer that I haven’t found much use for…

SAMSUNG

            See that G? It stands for “God Damn that’s a lot of F@%#in’ carbonation!” Well, that and Ginger… but really the former has held more true. Not exactly my best homebrew, but it works really well for things like this!

SAMSUNG

            So, no specific recipe tonight, this batter was a wing-it. Flour, a bit of cornstarch (tempura-tradition), some salt and pepper seasoning as always. Pop the bottle and slowly add in the beer, or other carbonated beverage, until one gets the desired consistency; if too thick, add more, if too thin, get some more flour in there (what I had to do). Dip and fry.

SAMSUNG

            Now, I sorta went for a “375F” degree for my frying temperature. Though if working with a small pot-fryer like me, which will easily drop 30-50 degrees (minimum) once adding in a bunch of things, I might suggest starting nearer to 400. Cook until batter gets that nice golden color to it. Transfer to paper towel-covered plate, sprinkle with some more salt and any other seasonings you desire.

SAMSUNG

            And here we go, Beer-Battered Garlic Scapes! Now, as you can see, there can be quite a few sections where the batter just slides right off; normally I would say something like “just toss in flour before battering” or whatever to try and fix it, but these scape guy’s “skin” is just SMOOTH and slick, I doubt any flour would want to stick to it.

SAMSUNG

            As for the result… taste is good, though MUCH milder than raw (the flavor tends to decrease a lot when one cooks this; which is why frying is sorta perfect, being so quick and minimal). They do tend to be very… I don’t want to say “stringy,” but something sorta similar… so it can be sorta odd trying to eat some of them. I would suggest 1 of 2 things; either blanch them beforehand, try to soften a bit. Or, even better (since I doubt that would really do anything), just cut the damn things smaller than I did. When not having a long piece to try and rip through with teeth, the unique texture is actually sorta fun and interesting.

SAMSUNG

            Well, whether one wants to fry or do some garlic scape cookery, hopefully this post can help at least start on one’s path towards delicious! Good luck and good eating! Oh, and if anyone has any interesting Garlic Scape Experiences, do tell!

SAMSUNG

            Look! It’s a Garlic Scape Funnel Cake!